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Last week I reviewed my story of my near sin of manipulation and my deep idol of control — and my pattern of losing administrative assistants. One of those assistants is dear Christy, who has forgiven me for my manipulative ways.


We are good friends now, and though we live an hour apart, we’ll sometimes meet in the middle at a quiet restaurant. In fact, just this weekend I stayed with Christy while I did a retreat in her area, and she ran my powerpoint presentation.

I’ve told Christy’s story before, and of how God gave her insight into her deep idol. But she has been telling me more, realizing how early in her Christian life the idolatry began.

I want to help you see the stones in your heart. I know that doesn’t sound like fun. It sounds like going to the dentist. But I promise you, getting the rottenness out will bring health to your soul and dramatically change your life. The stone you thought was your friend is not your friend. He only pretends to be. I’m excited to show you three very short film clips from an expert on overcoming idolatry, David Powlison. Christy’s story will help set them up. For more of Christy’s story, you can find it on this blog post: http://deebrestin.wpengine.com/2011/03/set-free-from-relational-idolatry/

Christy’s idol brought incredible pain into her life, but it took time for her to see him because he crouches, and tells you that he will give you what you want. But he won’t. He’ll turn on you. He is a beast.

Christy’s idol has been slain and Christy has been set free. Here is part of her story:

As women, we are the relational gender, and our friendships tend to be very important to us. We long for good friends, put time and thought into our friendships, and are devastated when a kindred spirit friendship falls apart. I believe God gave us that relational longing, and it is a good thing, as long as it does not become a god.

Christy suffered under the weight of her “stones” for fifteen years. She now can see how they brought her pain from the very beginning of her walk with Christ. Christy wasn’t involved with drugs or illicit sex at college – she would have known that was wrong. She was immersed in friendship with sisters in Christ. What could be wrong with that?

In the beginning, our idols seem to bring us the comfort, approval, and security for which we all long. Christy remembers the joy she had in the beginning, before her idols turned on her and began to cut her to pieces.

How I remember the excitement of becoming a Christian, and the enormous joy of Christian fellowship. There were three Christian women on my dorm floor to whom I was close, and one of them was my roommate, Sarah. These friendships were so much deeper than any friendships I’d known before. We talked about the things that mattered, we prayed for one another, and they helped me understand that Jesus needed to be my Lord, and not just my Savior. I was closest to Sarah. I admired her so much – she was wise, much more mature in her faith, and warmly encouraging. At night, before we’d fall asleep, I’d pepper her with questions about God or life. She listened and she drew me out. I felt loved and cared for. Sarah’s affirmation meant so much to me. When she’d compliment me on my Christian growth, her favor was like the morning sun, and I’d bask in its warmth.

Deep within her heart, Christy had idols of affirmation and of security. She wanted someone to to always be there for her to encourage her and to love her. She thought she had that in her friends. But as “The Solid Rock,” says:

…I dare not trust the sweetest frame,

But wholly lean on Jesus name

On Christ the Rock I stand,

All other ground is sinking sand.

As dear and as godly as friends are, they cannot promise to always be there for us. They may let us down, because they, like us, are sinners. They may move away. And they may die.

In fact, that May Sarah graduated. She would not be returning to college. Not only that, she was engaged to be married. It would be a double parting. Christy recalls:

I remember vividly how sad I was. I didn’t think I’d ever stop crying. I drove myself home for the summer break and cried all the way. My heart felt totally broken. I felt such a loss and I didn’t think I could ever be happy again without Sarah.

One of the clearest ways to identify our idols is to ask, “What, if you lost it, would make you feel like life was unbearable?” That clearly shows what we are trusting in other than God. In the first clip from David Powlison, he asks us to consider what we fear other than God, what we love other than God, what we seek other than God, and what we trust other than God. You can see all of these things in Christy and her relational idolatry.

When I think about the incident in Mark’s gospel with the blind man and Jesus, and how at first he saw “men as trees walking,” I think that though this story teaches that growth is gradual, it also represents how our idols can keep us from seeing people as Jesus would have us seem them. Instead of seeing them as people with hurts and needs, we can use them, seeing them as a way to meet our own needs. People in the world, because they are completely dominated by their idols, “bite and devour one another,” but we are to put off that way of life and put on Christ. I was devouring my administrative assistants. Christy confesses: “I wasn’t addicted to a substance or running to food for comfort, I was feasting on people.” When the Stonecutter moves in and crushes our idols, our relationships are transformed. We see people, “not as trees walking,” but as Jesus sees them. A new sweetness comes into our relationships with everyone.

What I see in Christy is that she is becoming more and more conformed to the image of Christ. There is a growing radiance and joy in her. It is what Jesus wants for all of us.


This week I want you to watch three short film clips by counselor David Powlison. I have used the term “near sin” and “deep idol.” He uses the term horizontal and vertical — for example, when we are horizontally angry, it is because something is wrong with our vertical relationship with God. One of the things that is helpful, he says, to do is to look at the commands Scripture gives us about God and turn them upside down. For example, we are told to love God — but what are we really loving. Here are some of the commands he addresses:

Love the Lord your God


Fear the Lord
Seek the Lord
Trust the Lord

Watch this three minute video:


1. What stood out to you from the above story about Christy and why?

2. What did you learn from David Powlison’s clip on How To Keep Yourself From Idolatry?

3. Ponder:

A. What do I love?

B. What do I fear?

C. What do I seek?

D. What do I trust?


Watch this:

David Powlinson asked this question: “What am I doing with God when something bad comes out?” Beneath the reaction is an idol.

3. What example from this clip stood out to you?

4. Watch yourself today for bad things coming out — complaining, worrying… Each time, see if you can identify what you are doing with God. When you see it, record it here. (Some of you may stay in the light all day — I’m not telling you to go to the darkness, but if you do, record it here.)

5. Read Psalm 46

a. Describe what is happening to the mountains, the sea, and the nations in the opening six verses.

b. Are you feeling any of that in your life right now? Explain.

c. What does the psalmist tell us to do in verses 8 through 11. How can you apply this to your situation right now?

Listen to this song, written after the author’s fiance drowned.


d. What evidence do you have from the gospel that God’s love will never let you go?

Thursday – Friday

Watch this:

David Powlison asks, “What are we meant to organize our life around?”

6. What stood out to from the above and why?

7. What does Ephesians 5:5 say that covetousness is? And what does covetousness mean?

8. What is your STRONG desire? Be as honest as you can.


9. What is your take-a-way and why?

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  1. c. What does the psalmist tell us to do in verses 8 through 11. How can you apply this to your situation right now?

    He first tells us to “Come”. That requires that I stop what I’, doing, put down the worry, the control I’m trying to get, the affirmation I’m waiting for. Put it down and come to Him. When I sense that call, and the slight hesistance of “but Lord, I just want…”, the Spirit has prompted me to say “I give it to You, Lord.” Sometimes it’s wanting my husband’s time or attention over his work, sometimes it’s wanting my sister to return my call—feeling of rejection, or wanting someone at work to appreciate what I did. And I picture myself laying it on the altar, like Abraham, and giving it to Him. To go to Him, I have to put down what I’m holding on to and “Come”.

    Then I have to “see”. Take my eyes off my Self, and turn my eyes to Him. Look at Hi works, what He has done, remember just Who He is, Creator God.

    And then the hardest part for me– “be still” and know. To be still is to wait, to trust, to leave “it” in His hands and believe He is Who He says He is. And then to “know”—bask in His Word, the true revelation of God. Know Him more, love Him more. And that will cause whatever “it” is that makes my world feel like it’s crumbling apart, begin to diminish. I saw this in the God of All Comfort. Dee suffered a pain so deep—I cannot even type this without tears. But she held on to Truth, and Love did not let her go, He held her and refined her, and made her into the great beautiful heart we are blessed by here. I think of that example a lot.

    Go to Him, and open my eyes. He is in everything, and everything speaks to His grace and mercy, His power. If I look with eyes that the Spirit gives me, I will see Him in everything. He is God. Nothing surprises Him, nothing uproots Him, He will never fall into the sea. He has everything in His hands, and He is good.

    1. Elizabeth, I love how you stopped and contemplated each part of the verses-some good stuff came out of that!

      I liked how you started with turning from the temptings of your idols and ‘coming’ to Him: “put down what I am holding on to and come to him”.

      Then how you went to ‘see’- take my eyes off of me and look at what He has done-His attributes-Who He is.

      Then be still-to wait, and leave it in his hands-leaving the pain in his hands-the vulnerability-SO GOOD.

      Then how are we able to let go and come, see, be still/wait-hand over our pain- By feasting on who He is, He is God-I think of in Genesis how the Holy Spirit hovered over the waters in creation, he was in control of the chaos-why can’t we trust Him with this chaos or pain in our life? 🙂 look at what He has done! Look at the Gospel! Look at His great love for us!

      I loved this from Spurgeon today. I won’t post all of it but He is talking about that great day when we will finally be at total rest in Him:

      “Here, rest is but partial, there, it is perfect. Here, the Christian is always unsettled; he feels that he has not yet attained. There, all are at rest; they have attained the summit of the mountain; they have ascended to the bosom of their God. Higher they cannot go.” 🙂 🙂

      Canst thou conceive it? It is a rest eternal; a rest that “remaineth.” Here, my best joys bear “mortal” on their brow; my fair flowers fade; my dainty cups are drained to dregs; my sweetest birds fall before Death’s arrows; my most pleasant days are shadowed into nights; and the flood-tides of my bliss subside into ebbs of sorrow; but there, everything is immortal; the harp abides unrusted, the crown unwithered, the eye undimmed, the voice unfaltering, THE HEART UNWAVERING, and the immortal being is wholly absorbed in infinite delight. Happy day! happy! when mortality shall be swallowed up of life, and the Eternal Sabbath shall begin.

      I can’t imagine what it will be like when we reach the summit when ‘higher we can’t go’ FULLY in His bosom!

      1. Thanks Rebecca–love that from Spurgeon, you now he’s a big favorite of mine 😉

  2. I am returning to this question that I have been pondering. I was afraid I wouldn’t be transparent with my answer since my flesh wanted to answer as to what I want the answers to be rather than the actual state of my heart.
    3. Ponder:

    A. What do I love? I love the Lord but my heart has been divided by love for Him and love of comfort.

    B. What do I fear? I fear I will never really get there-free from comfort although I see I am starting to believe I will.

    C. What do I seek? I seek Him wholeheartedly to finish this work He began. I know I am a mess and He loves me anyway so who could I go to but Him? 🙂

    D. What do I trust? I trust truth WILL prevail. I want to stop trusting my idol and I believe I will as He opens my eyes and enables me.

    d. What evidence do you have from the gospel that God’s love will never let you go?
    The gospel says He moved heaven and earth to be with me-a sinner-takes my breath away, this great love!

    This week has been very hard as Susan said-going to the dentist hard but sweet-my dialog with Him. I told Him a couple of days ago that I can’t take much more of His quietness and He sweetly showed up. I see He went to great lengths to bring me to that specific sermon that He knew would apply to my life and impressed upon my heart to listen to last evening. Have I said how much I love Dr. Keller’s sermons? Oh, and Dee I felt specifically led to pray for you last week that God would inspire and quicken you as you bring the lessons each week-He certainly answered this prayer!

  3. When I read the passage from Psalm 46, I started giggling as I remembered a story Dee told in one of her books about Sally (I think?) who, as a young child, was telling her Mom they had learned that verse in Sunday School, and then, in all seriousness, said “That’s why I can’t hear him.” It sure seems that way sometimes, and I have often found that those are the times when I’m resisting …. I don’t really WANT to hear his voice, because I’m ‘enjoying’ my pity party, or feeling self-righteous in my anger. Over this past year, with the death of my parents 10 weeks apart, we didn’t have to listen for a still small voice because the evidences of his grace were everywhere! Even my agnostic brother was amazed.

    But this is a theme I have often noticed. In the big crises of life, I am so much more able to trust God than in the small ones. A big crisis is totally out of my control, so what choice to I have BUT to trust God? I run to him. I cling to him. There is nothing particularly noble about that because I am so aware of my own weakness and helplessness.

    It’s in the smaller crises – maybe not when the mountain crumbles all the way to the ground, but when just enough rocks come sliding down to scare me; to hurt me; – that I fail to trust God. Why would he care that my co-worker just took credit for something that I did? Why would he care that I was falsly accused of stealing the chocolate bar off someone’s desk? (Really, I didn’t do it!!!) Yet those things really hurt, and if they hurt, I should be taking my refuge in God then as well.

    The song “O Love That Wilt Not Let me Go” has always been a favorite of mine – especially since I heard Danny Gaither sing it (to the original tune) years ago when HE was suffering from illness. Music – and especially old hymns (as Dee points out so beautifully in her book THE GOD OF ALL COMFORT) touch us in a way that nothing else can. Here is the link to Danny Gaither’s version of it … http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TjTrzJbtViM … there is a tenderness in his voice that no one else can match (IMO).

  4. What example from this clip stood out to you? What stood out to me is when he said “Am I too polite to say something but I think it.” I was raised in the old adage that children are to be seen and not heard thus my extreme quietness and shyness (shyness has gotten better over the years). I am also a mercy person so I will not say a word but hold it all in. My counselor gave me some help in constructively dealing with words that hurt or whatever might be coming to me but it is very hard so I stay anxious a lot. My husband is not following Jesus so it has been very hard. We separated once and looks like that may be happening again because he refuses to go to counseling and I so desire for him to give his heart to Jesus. I’ve tried to explain to him that it’s not about blame—it’s about us communicating and living in a house of peace and mutual respect and security. I refuse to continue in my co dependent ways and that has been hard for him to accept. I see what our marriage could be and feel it’s right at the edge of the mountain but we can’t get there. I don’t live in fantasy land and know there are no perfect marriages but being unequally yoked is verrrrry hard. I feel like I should have not reconciled five years ago but Jesus gave me chance after chance so who am I not to do the same but as co dependents we can enable people to continue in same behaviors which as I said before I began to deal with much too late in life but feel God wants me to strive for this. Takes a lot of strength which I’m a little low on right now physically but spiritually I am getting stronger. I trust in the Lord .
    3.Watch yourself today for bad things coming out — complaining, worrying… Each time, see if you can identify what you are doing with God. When you see it, record it here. (Some of you may stay in the light all day — I’m not telling you to go to the darkness, but if you do, record it here.) Anxiousness
    5. Read Psalm 46
    a. Describe what is happening to the mountains, the sea, and the nations in the opening six verses. Everything is collapsing as it is in our Nation and the world right now.
    b. Are you feeling any of that in your life right now? Explain. Yes, I explained most of this above.
    c. What does the psalmist tell us to do in verses 8 through 11. How can you apply this to your situation right now?
    ci. He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; 
       I will be exalted among the nations, 
       I will be exalted in the earth.”
     11 The LORD Almighty is with us; 
       the God of Jacob is our fortress.
    Lord, it is my prayer that you will be exalted in my home by “all” who are under its’ roof and that “all” will run to you, our mighty fortress. Show me how to be soft but help me to say the things that you would say to a stoney heart. Help him to realize that He must have His own relationship with you and that he cannot ride upon mine. I trust in you Lord, I do not trust in horses or chariots.
    d. What evidence do you have from the gospel that God’s love will never let you go? He loves us with an everlasting love and will never leave us or forsake us. I especially liked the line in the song that said, “I cannot close my heart to thee” Sounds like a good affirmation to me. “I cannot close my heart to thee”

  5. a. Describe what is happening to the mountains, the sea, and the nations in the opening six verses. The earth is in all choas and destruction but God’s city there is a river and peace

    b. Are you feeling any of that in your life right now? Explain. It is funny because i have this deep rooted peace though my life is flying crazily all around me. I cannot control a thing but God has got it. I know this. That is why He gives me this peace like being in His city. I am surrounded by Him there eventhough everything else around me is contrary to that.

    c. What does the psalmist tell us to do in verses 8 through 11. How can you apply this to your situation right now? Look at His works. Nothing too big for Him. We must just be still and KNOW He is GOd. Now, I can remember to keep my eyes fixed on Him in all this and things will be ok. They just will be.

  6. David Powlison asks – “what are we meant to organize our life around?”

    6. What stood out to you from above and why? That we are to build are fundamental trust around someone that is not ourself, but the one true living  God. David also commented about the bible saying that we were made to love, trust and take refuge in God, but that we tend to love, trust and find our comfort in other things or people. This really made me stop and think of what or who am I really depending on. Do I think that I can take care of my problems and not need God? I must if I continue to rely on myself to handle certain situations instead of bringing the issue to the Lord to handle. This is something that I am more aware of now and I have found myself starting to handle an issue but then stopping and asking God to take care of it so I can do what I am supposed to be doing at that time. My heart and mind are like a construction site always needing something worked on.

    7. What does Ephesians 5:5 say that covetousness is? And what does covetousness mean? – You can be sure that using people or religion or things just for what you can get out of them-the usual variations on idolatry-will get you nowhere, and certainly nowhere near the kingdom of Christ, the kingdom of God. (Ephesians 5:5 MSG) – it basically is anything that is NOT of God that has taken over your life, your heart, your mind. It means if you have any part of these things you are an idolator worshipping a false god. WOW!!

    8. What is your STRONG desire? Be as honest as you can. The thing that keeps coming to my mind and I don’t know if it really fits in to how David explained “strong” buts it to have a good non negative attitude toward people and issues. This is something that upsets me when I don’t accomplish it. I know this is a good thing on a normal basis, but maybe wanting it so bad that it upsets me is the “idol” sin nature coming out.

  7. d. What evidence do you have from the gospel that God’s love will never let you go?

    JESUS! I vaguely remember hearing a story years ago in which a young Sunday School child was asked a bunch of questions and answered “Jesus” for every question. He thought “Jesus” would be the right answer for any question asked in Sunday School. Well, this middle-aged woman thinks “Jesus” is a good answer for this question! The name of Jesus encompasses so much that my answer would be weaker if I try to explain (plus long day today and longer one tomorrow so explaining abilities are limited!)

    1. That’s neat Renee, made me smile!

  8. 6. What stood out to from the above and why?

    That I was made to trust in Christ alone, not some false god.

    7. What does Ephesians 5:5 say that covetousness is? And what does covetousness mean?

    Covetousness is a strong desire; to not be able to live without ——-.

    8. What is your STRONG desire? Be as honest as you can.

    I suppose my strong desire is to “look good” to others. Specifically with my children….who they become is directly related to who I am. Is this my identity? As we get further and further into this, I get more and more confused. Too many thoughts about different things. I want my children to be successful in their lives and that will prove to me that I am successful in my own life..

    1. Laura Dancer,

      #8. Is good and honest. Most of us can identify-I can! I have found I identify a lot with what we all struggle with so it is good to know we aren’t alone! 🙂 I would have to say I struggle with this too from time to time and it is going to be my answer to the question Dee asks about following our emotions and then writing it down. Thanks for reminding me of this! 🙂

  9. Good Morning Friends!
    I have been wanting to get on here since Monday to respond to Christy’s testimony, I can so relate. I have been studying for a Math placement test so I can start my HIT ( Health Information Technology program); I need to get certified for my job, I’m an Analyst in medical records and I want to advance on my job, more for income purposes than anything.
    Please prayer I understand the math, I am seeing a tutor after work today.

    As for Christy’s testimony, I can relate so much.
    I purposed to end a ten year friendship last summer after returning from a mission’s trip to Haiti.
    The reason, at first it was innocent. My friend, like myself had openly lived a homosexual lifestyle. We became friends through my sister who so much wanted her to mentor me because she ( my friend I will not say her name for privacy reasons), had come to the Lord and left a longterm relationship she was in.
    Our friendship started out innocent enough, but old habits are hard to die, and what may have been innocent became “wrong”, and I will not elaborate any further.

    The nature of our relationship was not right, and we were to close. She became my mentor, close friend and someone I depended on more than Jesus.
    We tried to maintain our friendship even after stumbling and repenting,but my walk with the Lord suffered because I put her before Him, and I put her before my own daughter ( wrong wrong wrong!).

    Over ten years of this relationship, we talked many times about living together as “Christian companions”. She faulted me for being wishy washy on the idea. And was anrgry/ hurt when I could not commit to a solid yes. Because she waited for me to make up my mind, it was my fault she put her own life on hold ( she could not see I was the relational idol in her own life).

    I wanted first to wait for my daughter to finish college, then wait while my daughter got married, then when my daughter became pregnant, she was not happy because I didn’t want to move away. The times I did want to move were more to get away from my own dull exsistence. And I am sorry I used her to provide me with happiness, security for my future and sense of purpose.
    BUT! We both she have been mature in Christ to know that He should be our purpose, our provider, our security!

    When I came back from Haiti this last time, I knew I wanted to break away from a relationship that emotionally, spiritually and mentally weighed me down.
    I read the book ” The Friendships of Women”, and realized this was wrong.I should have never of carried on in this for as long as I did.
    I wanted more of the Lord, He was the One who waited patiently while both of us made each other the idol!

    I now go to a different church, I don’t have a close friend yet, but I haven’t felt lonely or empty. I have been using this time to draw closer to the Lord.
    I have so much baggage, that only He knows how to deal with it.

    I’m sure I am looked upon as a selfish person who “abandoned” her friend in the circle of people we both knew. For that, I can not help, I did what I had to out of sprititual survival! But most of all, I love the Lord and it is His approval I seek!

    After I am dead, nothing will matter other than what I did for Christ!

    1. Laura – Praise God that He gave you the awareness and then the strength to extricate yourself from this relationship. I hurt for you, as I read your story – especially that you haven’t made a close friend in your new church. I wonder if, because of your history, there might be a small group of women who you could bond with and learn to trust. Sometimes there is safety in numbers. I will be praying for you today as you prep for your math test.

    2. What does it mean to be a Christian to you? Doing good deeds yet still refusing to see the sin? We can’t pay our way to heaven by racking up good deeds. We must submit totally to our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ. If you are Saved you are not to conform to this world.
      Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
      1 Peter 2:11,12 Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.
      God doesn’t sin and sin cannot be in the presence of God Almighty. He loves us but hates our sin. I don’t know if you heard the phrase ” hate the sin not the sinner” but it’s true.
      Romans 8:1-8 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. Romans 8:13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
      I am a Christian saved by the grace of God who had mercy upon me, by calling me out of the darkness into the light. And at times its not easy staying away from the old me. It’s much too comfortable to put on. We all have or had our idols. It’s best for all of us to place them all out there. Not a few but all. God wants all of us not some- but all.
      He gave His all for us now it’s our turn. I don’t want to be blinded by my sin. I want it exposed so that my Heavenly Father can transform me to be the servant, wife, mother, friend He wants me to be. It’s not about me but Christ. It’s for Gods glory not mine.
      1John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
      You have to let sin go. Are you willing to let it go? Jesus is holding His righteous hand out to you. He loves and wants you Laura Marie not your sin. Let it go. It’s no good and gives you more problems than answers. If you are to enter the Kingdom of God you can’t take it with you. God completes and fulfills. Not man.
      1 Corinthians 6:9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites,.
      You were right when you said you put everyone and everything first then God second.
      Philippians 2:21For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus.
      I have, you have, pretty much everyone has. Does this make it right? Or ok? No, it doesn’t, nor will it. Not for you or anybody for that matter. Our lives are but a vapor as it says in James 4:14.
      James 4:14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.
      It time to get our “houses” in order. Christ is coming back soon. I want to be ready and I hope you do too. I don’t need this world but I need Jesus. Everyday second, every minute, every hour, everyday! And I can’t live or do anything without Him. I belong to Him. He was and is and is to come. And every knee will bow and tongue confess that Jesus is the Lord thy God! As it says in Philippians 2:9-11 Amen.
      Colossians 1:17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.
      No, your not perfect but neither am I. I want to be in God’s Will,do you? It can’t be done in the flesh but in Christ all things are possible.
      Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
      Nothing done in the flesh will be acknowledged in heaven. We have to be Christ minded. Not self seeking the glory that belongs to God. But with a sincere heart.
      Colossians 3:23, 24 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.
      Matthew 7:21 Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.

      2 Corinthians 13:8 For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth.


      1. Hi Lisa!

        I thank you for your message, I wasn’t sure if it was a response to mine or generally concerning the study. But I think its a mixture of both?
        Anyhow, as far as the sin of homosexuality, that sin has been covered under the blood. My identity is and will always be in Christ.
        I’m well aware of what scripture says about this sin, and I fear God to much to exchange the truth for a lie. Nothing can ever convince this behavior is normal or natural.

        I love the Lord, I love being a Christian and am so grateful He starting talking to me at an early age.
        I never found fulfillment like this through any other type of relationship.

        It was out of a love for the Lord, obediance to His Word that caused me to leave a damaging relationship diguised as innocent.
        I am in a new church, however the people I have known well. My daughter, whom I love so much and am eternally grateful to the Lord for helping me raise her right, is also the reason why I attend her church. I want my grandchildren to know both grandparents love the Lord and see the example from both sides.

        The ladies in the church have been wonderful, they know about my homosexual past . As well as the Pastor and his wife who have counted me as one of their family.

        Dee, I have mentioned “The Friendships of Women” to my Pastor’s wife, told her how it helped me to see my friendship from a Christian perspective, and how much it helped me over the summer.
        I suggested doing a study on “relational idolatry”, and she said she is always looking for new ideas to present in her Bible studies. I am loaning her your book!

        God Bless everyone and thanks for your paryers over my math studies! (lol) I now know how to reduce fractions to their lowest terms!

        1. Laura Marie,
          Praying for your math … and sounds as if you have made some very wise decisions. You go, girl!!

          The verse that stood out to me in the list of verses above (I read the posting on my cell phone this a.m. and wasn’t sure what thread it was in, thought it might have been a response to me) was I Cor 6:9 (and I looked up v 10 because it stopped mid-sentence).

          “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor IDOLATERS nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

          The word “idolater” jumped right off the screen at me because I was reminded of the necessity of my continuous repentance. The verses make it so clear that none of us “will inherit the kingdom of God” if that inheritance if our sins are what determine that inheritance. Thanks for sharing your testimony 🙂 God’s grace is so evident in your postings.

    3. Love how God is helping you not feel empty or lonely, He is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

    4. Laura thanks for sharing and I will be praying for your situation.

  10. Liked the question what do we build our life around? That stood out.
    I am reading a great book talking about this stuff too Jesus plus nothing equals everything.

    I am seeing now an idol of comfort emerging. My strong desire is comfort….taking care of this little guy is a lot of work and there are things I would rather be doing. Selfishness exposed. Love how God is working it out of me.

    1. You are not the only one being exposed. I hear ya sister!

      1. Amen!

  11. Laura Marie

    Thank you for sharing.. You spoke right to me where I am at in my life right now!

  12. 8. What is your STRONG desire? Be as honest as you can. My strong desire is to love the lord with all my heart soul mind and strength and to be holy as he is holy and to have the mind of Christ

  13. And to not cling to other women so much!!!

  14. 7. What does Ephesians 5:5 say that covetousness is? And what does covetousness mean?
    Sorry a little out of order here…. Ephesians 5:5 says that cove tenuousness is being greedy. It means to want something that someone else has.

  15. I was not familiar with David Powlitson before this study but he is ‘right on’ the mark. He resonates with John Piper who also preaches a strong theme that ANYTHING that we want more than God HIMSELF is an idol. I get derailed when I obsess over something (reconciliation, unity …) that IS scriptural, but which my need to be understood/accepted/loved by OTHERS has distorted. (Like a reflection of yourself in one of those funny mirrors – the image IS you, but it is a distorted image.) I get so tripped up by my own logic. I was hurt by a body of believers who apparently believed that they were obeying Christ by withholding grace – and I can make myself crazy in 30 seconds if I start obsessing over that. My friend Joe (one of the elders I put myself under) reminds me to stop trying to draw water from a well that is clearly dry. RUN to the well of LIVING WATER – the well that is Christ Himself. I grew up on some wonderful choruses that taught great truths. The one I am humming today is Wide, wide as the ocean … high as the heavens above. Deep, deep as the deepest sea, is my Savior’s love. I, though so unworthy – still am a child of His care. For his WORD teaches me that HIS LOVE reaches me – EVERYWHERE.

    1. Beth, I can relate to “I get derailed when I obsess over something (reconciliation, unity …) that IS scriptural, but…” For me, the “but” is control. I want to “make” it work. i.e., I will MAKE you reconcile; I will MAKE us united! Doesn’t even make sense 🙂

      So glad you posted that chorus… now it’s in my head, too! (gonna see if I can find it)

      1. Woo hoo! First one that came up — http://youtu.be/dI_yWaHqVLo

        1. How cool! Isn’t the internet amazing?!

          And Renee, you are exactly right. It boils down to control. I’m so convinced that I’m right (after all, I have scripture on my side) that I will MAKE you do … Even God did not do that. He loved us, gave His son for us, offers us a home in heaven – and yet even with all that, He gives us a choice. The point of derailment is when I take on the job of convincing, persuading, forcing … and take what is the HOLY SPIRIT’S job and make it mine. (More to say but gotta SKYPE with my brother who is in Cambodia …)

        2. Beth, Cool is Skyping to Cambodia 🙂

  16. Listen to this song, written after the author’s fiance drowned.
    d. What evidence do you have from the gospel that God’s love will never let you go?

    The Gospel, in simple terms, says to me that He CANNOT let me go. I deserved to be let go. If He was going to ever let me go, He would have then. But God loves the World so much, He could not, it isn’t His nature. He will not break His Covenant with His Own. So He sent Jesus as the Only One Who could atone for my turning away from Him. THAT is how much He loves me, and evidence that His letting go isn’t an option.

    I fear sometimes because I know the life of a Christian is not guaranteed to be rosy. In fact, we know we will have trials and pain. I “watched” Dee through reading God of All Comfort…oh that kind of pain. I don’t like emotional pain. I don’t like that I still fear it. Yet somewhere, deep, deep inside there is a stillness I didn’t used to have. I remember when Dad died, almost 15 years ago, I sat sobbing in the bath that night and thought about how others had tried to console me with “it’s OK”, and I had yelled back “NO, it’s NOT!” But then I thought, I guess I will be OK because He wouldn’t have taken my Dad if I just wasn’t going to be able to live without him. Even in that moment, I did know that He doesn’t change. His Truths remain and we can hang on to them.

    But I guess where I’m going (a bit wordy this week!) is—even when we can’t hold on to those truths, even when we are swallowed by the waves and desperately trying to find some way out of the storm—even then, He has not let go. His arm still grasps mine. It cannot be broken. Love that He’s stronger than us!

    1. Elizabeth, I don’t see your posts as wordy-your words are sweet and when you do share more there are always gems in there-so share on! I just love your humble, sincere heart Elizabeth-I am privileged to be here with you-and sense a kindred spirit! 🙂

      1. thank you dear friend–I feel the same way about you. 🙂

  17. I’m really liking this guy(Powlison)–he reminds me of my old counselor, really wise.
    6. What stood out to from the above and why?

    We are MADE FOR HIM. Nothing else will work. We are made to find our worth in Him, our identity, our refuge, our care, in Him. My daughter and I were talking the other day about “wanting something TOO much”. I told her about when I was in high school and her daddy and I broke up, and I cried for DAYS. Barely ate, was a basket case, until my older sister said—you are NOT supposed to want something SO much that you can’t live without it! She was wise and I later saw how much the Spirit had guided her words. Unfortunately, I still haven’t fully learned. I want my kids to represent me well at school. I want my husband to want to be with me more than anyone else. I still long for the praise of man. But, it is getting better. He’s broken down a lot in me, and I feel Him filling up voids in a way nothing else I’ve tried works. With other things, it a vicious cycle. It works for a while, but there is always that fear—“waiting for the shoe to drop” feeling. The places He has filled in me, they last. When I am praised at work, or even at home, if I am quick to give Him the reward, the praise instead of taking it for myself—then the joy, the confidence, seems to last. When I try to hold onto it, and let the praise itself sustain me, there is always that waiting—will they say it tomorrow? Is this temporary? It’s too conditional. But if I fill myself with HE made me, and He has assigned value to me, nothing can take that away. It lasts. I’m rambling again and I don’t think I made much sense here, except to myself—sorry! Will go back to editing before posting! ;0

    1. Please don’t edit your ramblings, Elizabeth. I needed to read what you said here. I am having a hard time this week, so haven’t posted much, but am reading what is posted here.

      1. oh Diane, I am so sorry to hear you’re having a hard week. Anything new/specific we can be praying for you? Love to you~

      2. I will pray for you now, dear Diane.

      3. Diane, So sorry you are having a hard week! I Will pray, and let us know, if you can, how we can pray. Miss your comments! 🙂

      4. I appreciate your prayers. I am dealing with some personal issues that I don’t feel free to share. At first the crisis left me scared and flailing, but the panic has passed. Right now, I feel like I need to study God’s Word and pray and be quiet. I know God is teaching me things and I am trying hard to listen.

        1. praying still dear Diane–thankful you are basking in His Word

        2. Praying, Diane, that you will hear Him speak and rest in His love.

      5. Diane I will be praying. Continue to keep Him close and He will lead your way.

    2. I like what you said about how the praise of people is temporary – will they say it tomorrow? And it is conditional. But what God gives you lasts. What you are learning is so helpful to all of us!

    3. Elizabeth, I agree with Diane! Don’t edit too much. SO GOOD:

      “The places He has filled in me, they last. When I am praised at work, or even at home, if I am quick to give Him the reward, the praise instead of taking it for myself—then the joy, the confidence, seems to last. When I try to hold onto it, and let the praise itself sustain me, there is always that waiting—will they say it tomorrow? Is this temporary? It’s too conditional. But if I fill myself with HE made me, and He has assigned value to me, nothing can take that away. It lasts.”

      Good reminder to me after my fears of today.

  18. 8. What is your STRONG desire? Be as honest as you can.

    I want to be loved. Like, really loved, adored. I want to be well-thought of, treasured. I admit as I type I have turned to people to meet this for as long as I can remember. I think for me, that is why the hymn “Jesus, Lover of My Soul” speaks so deep. It’s impossible to take a part of it only, because I love the whole hymn so much—but the last 2 stanzas speak deep to me now:
    Thou, O Christ, are all I want,
    Here more than all I find;
    Raise the fallen, cheer the faint,
    Heal the sick, and lead the blind.
    Just and holy is Thy Name,
    I am all unrighteousness;
    False and full of sin I am;
    Thou art full of truth and grace.

    Plenteous grace with Thee is found,
    Grace to cover all my sin;
    Let the healing streams abound;
    Make and keep me pure within.
    Thou of life the fountain art,
    Let me take of Thee;
    Spring Thou up within my heart;
    For all eternity.

  19. 6. What stood out to from the above and why?

    -We are MADE to trust Him

    7. What does Ephesians 5:5 say that covetousness is? And what does covetousness mean?

    NIV: For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

    NASB: For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

    Another term for covetous is greedy; a covetous person is an idolator.

    According to Powlinson, “covetous” means strong desire and is a picture of what we do/ what we want.

    8. What is your STRONG desire? Be as honest as you can.
    I don’t have particularly STRONG desires. Even though I can generate short term passion about projects or ideas, I haven’t had long, term strong desires for some time (and have been told that by others who were trying to identify my interests). Recently, I’ve started to get some hints of stronger desires, as I’ve focused knowing God, not so much to seek direction, but just to know Him and rest in Him.

    At one point, I had a stronger desire for approval. But I learned (in a very painful way) not to base my well-being in the hands of other people. I have some good relationships with other people, but as soon as my antenna detect danger, I detach and withdraw. That may be indicative of an idol of approval — but the idol isn’t associated with strong desire.

    Most of my worst fears (in terms of loss of idols) have come true. God has been faithful in restoring me in the face of pain that I faced honestly & brought to Him. But also, I have a sense of lostness or even apathy because I’ve learned that those idols don’t provide anything worthwhile. For example, I’ve had times when I’ve had control, or comfort, or affirmation: So what? I got what I wanted and it didn’t “matter” anyway. Idols didn’t give me purpose or meaning. Although I’ve heard plenty of formula or steps for knowing God/knowing God better, the times which have helped me know Him and trust Him most have been the times of deepest pain. Short answer is it’s hard for me to look at strong desires as a guide to turn to God, because I’ve developed a whole lot of apathy toward normal desires. Sometimes I haven’t known “how to” trust in and listen to Him.

    SO, any ideas how to respond when the idols are more subtle? People have a hard time lighting a fire under me to do things that I think are pointless. Money, approval, power — I’ve seen those become so perverted or misused that I tend to detach and withdraw rather than be tempted by them. I want to replace my withdrawal with trusting Him. I’ve seen that happen more through recent grief experiences but I hope it doesn’t take a bunch of family deaths every year to turn me to Him. I want to know Him because of who he is, not just because He gives me purpose, meaning, or acceptance.

    1. Renee, I think you may have answered your own question (especially the last line) 🙂
      You said:
      SO, any ideas how to respond when the idols are more subtle?
      I want to replace my withdrawal with trusting Him. I’ve seen that happen more through recent grief experiences but I hope it doesn’t take a bunch of family deaths every year to turn me to Him. I want to know Him because of who he is, not just because He gives me purpose, meaning, or acceptance.
      It has been my experience that as we know Him He reveals what is needed and I am thankful He gives it to me in small pieces for if He made a list it would overwhelm me and I would give up. Trust His timing to show you the subtle idols and His power to overcome them.

      1. Thanks, Kim! I also had a “duh” moment last night after I got off the computer. Regarding how I should respond when the idols are more subtle: I can ASK HIM!!!! So I did — and He started to answer.

        I had a couple of sins made very evident to me today — the first I realized before work this morning and that sent me right to the Lord, and the next one took a few hours (i.e., till now). I realized that because I sometimes am detached, I’m not always grieved by what grieves God’s heart. I’m sometimes like an elementary school kid saying “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names can never hurt me.” Because I decided that I wasn’t going to get hurt by other believers, I may get annoyed or angry when I see hurtful or judgmental behavior among believers. And I feel badly for (and may even defend) the person being hurt. When I see (some) self-righteousness, I self-righteously let it reinforce my detachment (similar to “I told you so.”). Jesus must have been not only angry when He responded to Pharisees but also grieved by the effect that Pharisees had on his followers. I’m praying that He will VERY GENTLY soften my heart so that I am grieved by what grieves Him.

        The second time was when I became aware that someone was angry about an email that had been sent. Can’t go into detail here, but I figured I could have been the guilty party because what offended one person matched my thoughts (i.e., I knew I could have written something!). The person who heard the complaint didn’t ask who was involved, but I told her it probably was me. At first, I was afraid I was going to get in trouble (wrong reason to repent); although I wasn’t as scared as I would have been in the past, because of my detachment. Then, the colleague who told me about the situation solved the mystery… And yes, I was one of those involved, but she said that what I wrote wasn’t even bad. True, it wasn’t “bad,” and what I wrote was true. I was thankful I hadn’t written something worse. But “not bad” and loving/gracious are quite different. Praying that God will give me wisdom on how to (or whether to) answer questions in email, and to be gracious even if I have to be honest.

        1. Great, you are welcome!

  20. 8. What is your STRONG desire? Be as honest as you can. ok! I am reposting this because i feel that i misinterpreted the question.. My strong desire is to feel love, appreciated and accepted i want everyone to love me and say they love me.

    1. Meg, Ditto what Dee said. 🙂

  21. 6. What stood out to from the above and why? what stood out to me was what he said about what covetousness means that STRONG desire to want something… saying I have to have it.. wow very convicting.

  22. 6. What stood out to from the above and why? I like him, he is good. He helped me grasp fundamental trust better. He said we are made to take refuge in God when life is hard but we often take refuge in recreation’s and other things-this makes me think we are ignoring or trying to escape instead of taking refuge in Him.

    7. What does Ephesians 5:5 say that covetousness is? 5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. And what does covetousness mean? Idolatry, strong desire, what we want need, what we have to have. Help! Is this saying I am not going to heaven if I am an idolater?

    8. What is your STRONG desire? Be as honest as you can. I want my strong desire to be Him, sometimes it wanes but mostly it is Him, His presence, His will.

  23. Please pray for my brother, Dennis. Hospice told him today that Mary kay, his wife of 47 years, has one to three days to live. Dennis has been by her side for almost 2 years through out her illness, grieving every day. I’m so glad she will be out of her misery, but Dennis’s pain is just beginning. We will be there with them every minute we can. Pray Dennis can get through this and go on with his life and trust in God for everything. Mary Kay loved the Lord, but Dennis is a new christian and doesn’t have much knowledge of the bible. Please pray for him. Glory be to God

    1. Oh Joyce, Will be praying..hugs.

    2. oh Joyce, praying.

    3. Praying for you Joyce!
      Praying for Dennis and Mary Kay !

    4. Praying for you all, Joyce. God is there.

    5. Praying for all of you, Joyce. May God comfort and keep you — and may you be aware that He is there with you.

    6. Will pray for peace and comfort for all of you at this time!

    7. We have been there all day and Mary Kay is suffering so and trying so hard to die. She is like skin and bones and has no muscle left, so her rigidness has went away. She knows we are all their with her, but we had to come home, so Kendra could get some sleep and back tomarrow. I doubt if she makes it through the night, or I should say, I pray she doesn’t make it throught the night. Lord, why does this family have to suffer more and more and more. I’m sorry, I’m having a very hard time.

      1. Joyce, Oh we are here with you and I wish I could give you a hug!

        Lord we ask that you would shed your grace and mercy over Mary Kay and her family. Lord we plead, if it be your will, that you would bring Mary Kay home to you quickly. Lord help them to sense your comfort-thank you that you are-we love you so.

  24. I am so enjoying this study !
    How interesting to go back to Exodus 20 and re-read the Ten Commandments. Realized the First : You shall have no other gods before Me, is different from the second ; You shall not make for yourself a carved image.
    How interesting to know that Christians can think they are walking obediantly yet committ that sin of idolatry everytime they put flesh ( comfort; manipulation; self- righteous behavior; etc). before God!

    My idol has been several; affirmation ( approval); self-righteousness and comfort.
    I can feel God doing new work in me!

    1. Laura Marie-Yeah!!!!!!! 🙂 🙂


    3. What example from this clip stood out to you?

    That when a bad reaction – such as negative emotions, thoughts, words out of my mouth, are happening in my life, the question is “What am I doing with God right now?” Beneath my reactions is an idol.

    This example stood out to me, for some reason!…..”I insist and demand that I be treated with respect, and if you don’t treat me with respect, I am like some pagan god who throws lightning strikes at you.”
    Or, “MY will be done…”
    Both of these speak to thinking, acting and behaving as if I were a god. The god is SELF.

    I just read this quote in a book; the quote is by J.I. Packer, “Sin is a universal deformity of human nature, found at every point in every person…IT IS A REBELLIOUS REACTION TO GOD’S CALL AND COMMAND, A SPIRIT OF FIGHTING GOD IN ORDER TO PLAY GOD”.

    When it comes to my reactions to being personally offended or hurt, I think this is at the root of my behavior – I am playing God.

    The last thing that really stood out to me from the video was when Powlinson said “every one of us, all the time, is simultaneously operating in the vertical dimension and the horizontal, so I’m either worshipping and trusting the true God or something else”.
    So much for the theory that we can “put God in a box” and only open it on Sunday, or when we’re at church. That’s impossible! Whether we recognize or admit it or not, we are operating in this way all the time.

    4. Watch yourself today for bad things coming out – complaining, worrying…Each time, see if you can identify what you are doing with God. When you see it, record it here.

    Okay, there’s not enough blog space……..Well, I’ve been paying attention the last couple of days. Honestly, most of the bad things coming out stem from what I perceive as others having done or not done to me. One day, someone I shall call an acquaintance seemed to call into question my ability to be responsible and dependable. I fretted about it for some time, found myself thinking unkind thoughts, feeling slighted, and then determined to prove otherwise. I am sure that underneath is me, dressed as a ridiculous “pagan god”; having been “sinned against” and ready to throw a lightning bolt.
    (I threw in some humor here, but I know it’s really not funny – it is SIN).

    I really think this is where I get into the most trouble, and this counselor is helping me see the reason why. I have a huge, ugly idol of SELF, along with all that comes with it – self-worship being one.

    1. Wow Susan I think we were living each others lives. I was having the same issues, but it is when one certain person at work, just ignores me. I’ve tried say hi and goodbye but she pretty much just ignores me. If she comes in after me she won’t even say anything. I’ve found myself not saying anything now because “I tried” so why should I bend over backwards. This feeling bothers me like it does you, so now I’ve been asking God to change her heart and to let me know what I’m doing wrong or what I’ve done wrong.

  26. 5. Read Psalm 46.

    A. Describe what is happening to the mountains, the sea, and the nations in the opening six verses.

    It sounds like the end of the world. The earth is giving way, the mountains are falling into the heart of the sea, the waters of the oceans roaring and foaming and surging; there is quaking. The nations are in an uproar, kingdoms are falling. At the voice of God, the earth melts.

    B. Are you feeling any of that in your life right now? Explain.

    Right now, no. A time when I did feel this was when I learned my nephew was dead of a drug overdose, in 2009. It was the end of so many things, and our lives, we who loved him, were turned upside down. There didn’t seem anything to hold onto. My confidence and trust in God was badly shaken, and yet, I weakly still went to Him – I didn’t know where else to go for any shred of hope, or help.

    Right now, I think the desert description from last week fits more how I feel presently. I’m starting to feel, though, that it’s okay – as long as God keeps company with me here, it is okay. I must have much to learn before He can bring me out.

    C. What does the psalmist tell us to do in verses 8 through 11? How can you apply this to your situation right now?

    The first few verses seem to speak of a future event, because God has not caused all wars to cease yet, nor broken the weapons of war yet. Yet, I am exhorted in verse 8 to pay attention, look around, and see what God is doing. I can apply this in that God is in control, perfectly, in my life, and in all of everything.

    I find it interesting that the opening of the psalm describes all this quaking and roaring, suggesting loud and deafening sounds, and then verse 10 opens with “Be still”. Suddenly, total stillness, total quiet. In that stillness, the psalmist tells me to know that God is God. He will be exalted. I can apply this in my situation in this way: I must choose to block out the noise of the circumstances, the clamoring voices, the trials and troubles, and find that still, small place within where I can still and quiet my soul and know that He is God. I can choose to exalt and worship Him in good and in bad, instead of doing the “why me?” or “why cant…..” and complain.

    1. Your faith humbles me Susan “I’m starting to feel, though, that it’s okay – as long as God keeps company with me here, it is okay. I must have much to learn before He can bring me out.’. Your desert sounds hard and lonely–I am so thankful you feel His comfort and presence in it.

      And your last paragraph made me think of Jesus calming the storm–loved this “I must choose to block out the noise of the circumstances, the clamoring voices, the trials and troubles, and find that still, small place within where I can still and quiet my soul and know that He is God.”

  27. D. What evidence do you have from the gospel that God’s love will never let you go?

    I really liked the Indelible Grace song, I had not heard it before. I thought as I listened how the author of it wrote it after such a loss, it gave me more understanding to it, like tracing the rainbow through the rain, and being unable to close your heart to God even in a tragedy.
    I have lots of evidence in the gospel. I love the passages in John that tell me that “whoever comes to Me I will never drive away”, and “I shall lose none of all that He has given Me”.
    Elisabeth Eliot was mentioned above in a post, and I used to listen to her program every day. She would open it with “You are loved with an everlasting love, and underneath are the everlasting arms”. God’s love is everlasting. Thank you, Lord!

      1. Oh Dee,
        Believe me – I can throw the lightning bolts!

        1. 🙂 (doesn’t show in your postings, Susan!!)

  28. 6.What stood out to from the above and why?
    “All of our fundamentals such as trust, love, etc should be around Jesus.” My take is if we were not raised by parents with these fundamentals and come to Christ later in our adult lives it is harder in the renewing of the mind process but possible.
    7. What does Ephesians 5:5 say that covetousness is? And what does covetousness mean? This is from the Amplified Bible which I love. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.[a]
    a. Ephesians 5:5 Or kingdom of the Messiah and God

    Someone here said, “Does this mean I can’t go to heaven.?” This says they will have no “inheritance” in Heaven. Something to ponder I think. I am trying to absorb the truth but at the same time trying to keep myself away from fear or self condemnation because this only confuses me more. The Bible says that anything done with impure motives those things will be burned in front of us when we enter Heaven. The question I guess is after those things are burnt will there be anything left?

    8. What is your STRONG desire? Be as honest as you can. Throughout my life I have been guilty of trying to save people. Not sure why but I felt like that was my purpose in life and that I had no importance at all. So I threw my life into those I love full forced only to watch some of them crash and burn. I had to come to the realization that only God could help them but it was their responsibility to seek that help. I “love” to do things for others but now I am trying to do it in a more healthy way and not to my detriment. So to ask what my strong desire is is hard to say right now but for the last several years I have been relying on God and not myself to be the Savior of my loved ones. I now must ask myself always what are my motives, if there are any, and is it from God or from me? Not sure if this makes sense.
    He also spoke a little about what our identity is in. For many years you could say my identity was in my job—I had a pretty good paying job for someone with only two complete years of college. Yes, I struggled when at 17 years old I left home to come to the big city by myself to work but I kept progressing and that was always something that drove me. Achievement and success.
    Now I am forced into retirement due to disability and that has been hard as I was in the work force for 35 years. Why am I saying this? I guess to say that any identity we have with worldly things even tho we must have a job can be taken from us but never can our identity in Christ. Right now in my life security is on shaky ground but I know my true security is in Christ and I “do” have that peaces that surpasses all understanding. We are all a work in progress.

    1. Thanks Charmaine, it was me and I see the difference. It was as I suspected but wanted to hear someone else’ thoughts.

      1. Was just kind of throwing it out there myself. I need to do some more study on our inheritance. Blessings to you.

  29. This further clip by David Powlison was very helpful to me in thinking through the issues we are dealing with thhis week and I thought it might be to others. It is 11 minutes but worth it.


    1. I’ve been missing you this week, Diane. Hope everything is okay!

  30. To be honest I think that my greatest stumbling block to finding the ultimate love from God is that deep down I want someone to love me, only me, above all others, all of the time. No person can fill that. I’m reminded repeatedly that God love me with an immeasurable love (along with millions of other people, THAT’S the killer). But even as I am typing this I am beginning to see where there is a flaw in my thinking and desire. I am desiring to be the ultimate and that is God’s place not mine. I need to spend some time with this.

      1. I am definitely beginning to see the wisdom in writing thing out. I have taken Rebecca’s advice to write out my negative self talk and then write God’s truth about it.

        1. Dawn, so good to hear you are pondering so deeply on this and it sounds like God is moving! It is hard to write it out and then believe the truth-but what I have seen in you is that you desire the truth. I think for me, this was a lifeline during a pretty scary time. Even though I didn’t know it was an idol at the time, God saved my life replacing some of the lies with the truth, but I still needed deeper surgery in order for our intimacy to return. God came to deal with that when I came here to the blog. 🙂 So, take courage-God is SO faithful-He will not leave you or forsake you in this process rather He knows your frame-exactly what you need and when. I will keep praying for you sister.

    1. Dawn,
      I hear you in this, and can relate – “I am desiring to be the ultimate and that is God’s place not mine”. But this is huge that we are having our eyes opened to the depths of our hearts, even the dark corners we’d rather not look in.

  31. WOW! I have finally had a chunk of time to do this Bible Study. The first part alone impacted me.
    My idol is wanting other’s approval. And wanting that definitely swallows up my intimacy with God. When I am running after other people’s approval I do not allow God to be in that time and space. Sitting here today and spending time thinking about my idol, God has shown me how much He longs for me and how I am not here with Him. When I run after my idol of other’s approval I can’t be here soaking in His love and goodness. I know I seek out other’s approval because I have a deep fear of not having worth. I feel such an overwhelming need to confess my sin and repent.

    Lord, I am sorry I have not turned to you for everything. I am sorry I have looked to other’s to receive my worth. Forgive me that my desire has not been to please you but to please others. Through this study Lord make it obvious when I turn to others instead of You. Give me a heart that points to you. Help me Lord to each day spend time with You. I know I have been lazy in truly following you and that has left me lonely and then instead of seeking you I have sought friends. Keep me focused on you. Amen

    I finished this week’s study but all my answers kept coming back to what God spoke to me when I finally sat down to “Be Still and Know that He is God”. Dee, thank you for this study

    1. Great to have you, Amy!

    2. Amy, Hi! So good to have you. I can so relate-yet your heart is so much more tender for mine can be stubborn. It’s sweet to see how you are willing to repent, turn and let Him have you-let Him whittle away at this stone. 🙂

      1. Rebecca I would not call my heart tender at all. I feel very stubborn as I continue to wrestle with this ideal of approval and my fear of being unworthy. Now that I have repented I need to be with Him and truly change my thinking from mine to His. Staying committed to this Bible Study will be one essential way of doing this.

  32. 9. What is your take-a-way and why? My take away is this:






    I am going to write this down in my Journal to remind me daily of this!

  33. My takeaway is that I don’t “have” to be enslaved to my idols-Yet I need to be aware of them every day for as Dee said they crouch at my door waiting to pounce-BUT they don’t have to win because He won on the cross for me-now that truth emboldens me! Every day I have to tell myself the truth for I am prone to bend away from God and lie to myself. The truth is that I am His and He is my identity, my approval, my comfort and my control-and I need to apply the Gospel to each one as they come up daily.

    The beauty of this struggle is that God using it to transform me. I have so much more junk he needs to weed out. It truly is a mystery how God turns my pain into beauty, even though the pain may not totally go away-joy and peace amidst the pain is my salve. Only God can do that.

    God is also causing me to have compassion on those who are struggling with intimacy with Him-I am humbled for we all have messy hearts and He is coming into our mess and drawing us closer. We need one another for encouragement and truth.

    Lord, as we journey today and the rest of next week in our study-help us to hear you.

  34. the more i pray and listen and read this blog the more i am convinced that my idol is ME whatever it is i want at the time, that is what i put in front of God. If im tired its comfort, if I feel scared its control if im feeling lonely its approval but bottom line its ME/my flesh/my sinful nature. I want to be happy, I want God to lead me to happy land. I want to do what HE leads me to do but I want that to lead me to happy land.
    I want I want I want….He wants He wants….I WANT…HE wants…I WANT…. HE WANTS… it is such a battle in my soul. I long for them to meld into one…I/HE/I Wants to be a woman who can say (and really mean) not my will but YOURS be done. do I trust HIM to be enough? do I trust HIM to fill my when my kids leave the nest, do I trust HIM???? not yet, not totaly, but I am on a journey that I pray will get me there.
    I WANT HIM to promise me a comfortable, joy filled life…..but that is not what HE promises…He promises to be enough, when the world betrays us, when satan has won the battle…HE is enough.

    We are praying about moving to florida, my heath is not good in the winter and we feel like God is asking us to step into something new. we are praying like mad. to move away from my son and to move all 4 daughters from the place they have always called home….it seems crazy. Paul and I are going on a trip down there next week to pray and see what He may have for us. I have never seen Paul so alive as he is when he thinks about moving….I want to follow his lead for the first time in our 20yr marriage. I have never felt more loved by him as I have these past few weeks. now sure what is going on here but I believe God is shaking our family up and I am excited to see what HE has in store for us, but afraid at the same time.

    1. cyndi, I’ll be praying for you as you consider this big move that God would make it very clear. Thanks for sharing your struggle. Your battle sounds like mine.

    2. Cyndi, so glad for this good report that you feel so loved by your husband- PTL! Will pray for the doors to open or close and peace.

      1. thanks Kim! im still pinching myself, waiting for this feeling to fade:) thanks for your prayers and advice over the year! thanks for praying Diane!

    3. Cyndi, what you said here describe where I am. It does “feel” like a battle in my soul. I know part of my struggle is I operate from my feelings first rather than from Him. I know I need to spend more time with Him filling me up
      You will be amazed at how free you feel when you step aside and let your husband lead. My marriage was almost lost about 7 years ago. My part in that was I needed to let go of the control. Once i did, he felt free to lead. I have had times when my prayer has had to be to keep my mouth shut and trust. it has made a huge difference and my husband’s faith was strengthened by it, more than all the books i suggested he read 🙂

      1. I have tried to step back and have prayed for him to lead for years, I stepped back and prayed and gave up control but He never stepped up before know. He always wanted me to protect him from being uncomfortable and when i did not he got VERY angry. what is happening know is a true miracle in his heart….

  35. Saturday
    9. What is your take-a-way and why?

    This is lengthy, but it makes up for not talking to you all week. 🙂

    I have been wrestling with my approval idol this week and I feel a bit like Jacob who wrestled all night with the angel and said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”(Genesis 32:29) I know one of my idols (approval) quite intimately and it has caused deep pain in my life. I have grieved and begged to have it removed many times, and, although its grip has lessened somewhat over the years, it is so deep-rooted that I almost despair of ever being free.

    This morning as I reviewed my memory verses, God caused me to focus on Paul’s prayer for the Christians in
    Ephesians 1:18-20 (English Standard Version).

    18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may KNOW what is the HOPE to which he has called you, what are the RICHES of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is THE IMMEASURABLE GREATNESS OF HIS POWER toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,

    I will not go into details of my thoughts, but, as I prayed that the eyes of my heart would be enlightened to know His hope and incredible riches, my mind was drawn to God’s power – His immeasurable great power toward me – that same power that raised Christ from the dead and set Him as King over all the universe. Do I really believe He has the power to free me? No, I admit I do not. Well, practically I think that He does have the power but He doesn’t want me free. It serves some purpose to let me continue to suffer. I realized then, this doesn’t make sense. This is a lie. Why would God want me captive to sin, caught in a web of fear and deep emotional pain? Perhaps I am clinging to the lie because I love my idol too much, that I fear life without it.

    I was drawn to read further in Ephesians and found again another prayer of Paul’s in Ephesians 3: 14-21. Again Paul prays that God may strengthen us with God’s power in our inner being (vs. 16) and then breaks into a doxology about comprehending God’s wonderful, incomprehensible love, and then that we might:

    Ephesians 3:19-21 (ESV)
    19 … know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
    20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

    It is as if verse 20 was written just for me: God is able to do far more abundantly than all I ask or dare to dream, because His power is at work in me for His own glory. Yes, His power, the same power that I doubted moments before; His immeasurable great power toward me – that same power that raised Christ from the dead and set Him as King over the entire universe. God wants me “filled with all the fullness of God.” (v. 19)

    God is tapping me on the shoulder and saying, I want to free you. Will you let me? I am as one of the disciples on the storm-tossed Sea of Galilee begging Jesus to save me from drowning. He is simply looking at me with sad loving eyes saying, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” (Mark 4: 35-41) “Have I not proven my power and love for you yet?”

    Lord, I fear. I fear people more than I fear you. I am sorry. I don’t understand myself. I know you love me. Take away my anxiety over what people will think. Free me Lord from my fear and guilt. Do in me what I cannot do for myself, what others cannot do for me. Heal me, fill me with your love, hope, power and fullness – not for myself only, but for your glory and for the glory of your church as I serve you in freedom. Amen.

    1. I think Keller said you are half way there when your eyes are opened. Bless you, sister.

    2. Diane, I honestly cannot even put words to how much this post moved me–it’s beautiful–so rich with honesty and truth. I love especially here, when you said “Do I really believe He has the
      power to free me? No, I admit I do not. Well, practically I think that He does have the
      power but He doesn’t want me free.” And then you combated it with “I realized then, this doesn’t make sense. This is a lie. ”

      You remind me of the man in Mark 9:24, who I so relate to –“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

      I’m encouraged for you and praying with you~

    3. Oh Diane, Your post encouraged me so much. I was so encouraged that you wrestled through and kept turning back to Scripture. THANK YOU for modeling this.

    4. Diane, Sooo good. This came to mind, Jesus said: “Because you have seen me, you have believed; Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”…I was also thinking of Paul, he had a glimpse yet we haven’t. How precious your post must be to God. Keep pursuing Him! 🙂

    5. Love your post. I often think of your scripture references and think about how Jesus said we would do even greater things. I love the following from Matthew:

      “And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding his twelve disciples, he departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities. Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? ” (Matthew 11:1-3, KJV)
      Jesus answered them,

      “Go back to John and tell him what you hear and have seen for yourself, that the blind and lame and lepers and deaf are healed, the dead are raised up, and the poor hear the good news of God’s kingdom. Happy is he who has no doubts about me.” (Matthew 11:4-6)

      Especially “Happy is he who has no doubts about me.” I am not pointing this out for negative reasons because I fight doubt and unbelief myself but it just hit me a little while ago when reading this that John was in prison and perhaps questioning why Jesus didn’t come to his aid and perform a miracle so he sent two disciples to ask Jesus if they should be looking for another. “Looking for another?” We might first say, “How could he even think to say that to Jesus. He said he was paving the way for the true Messiah and saw the dove upon Jesus’ baptism but when his life was being threatened as we feel ours are a lot fear probably gripped his humanity and doubt set in. Wow!!
      When Jesus says to go back and tell John that Happy is he who has no doubts about me I don’t think he meant that in a harsh manner. He was telling John and “us” that with no doubts in Him we would be happy. If we don’t allow ourselves to be tortured by doubt we will be happy. For some reason that excites me because I want the happiness that Jesus says I can have–no other. I always thought that Jesus never really spoke about happiness per se’ at least we will always hear about how Jesus said we would have trials and tribulations and I’m grateful He said that because we know what to expect but He does say we can be happy. Others may not read it this way but I believe the Holy Spirit wanted me to hear it this way and hopefully others. God bless all–praying for you ladies.

  36. My takeaway is less of me (those, that, them) and more of Him. Less people pleasing and more people helping.

    When I was seeing my counselor she had all these cut up things in a basket and she always would ask you to pull one out and read it b4 leaving that day. Many many times it would have to do wuth something that we had talked about that day. I was looking at some this morning and beand an approval seeker I thought I’d put it here for others who struggle with the same thing and maybe have their whole life as I have.

    “You don’t have to do tricks (be cute, sick, sad, mad,or scared) to get approval.”

    Add anything to the parentheses that God may show you regarding your own struggles.

  37. Mary Kay is with our Father in Heaven now. She died right before 3pm central standard time. Dennis is still with her in that bedroom crying with his kids. We were there all day yesterday untill 1am in the morning and thought she could go anytime then, but she suffered more and more. I’m so thankful to God that her suffering is over and she is in heaven with her loved ones and Jesus. Please pray for Dennis. Thank you all so much, Love you all

    1. Oh dear Joyce. I am praying for you all. So sorry for this pain. Much love to you~

    2. Dear Joyce, What relief — and pain. Praying for Dennis, you, and the rest of the family. May God’s comfort bless you as you mourn the loss of Mary Kay on earth.

    3. So sorry for your loss, dear Joyce. Praying for Dennis and all the family.

    4. Joyce, big hug to you and will pray for Dennis-I’m so sorry. Much love sis.

    5. So sorry to hear this, I will be praying for your family.

    6. So sorry for the family’s loss but being reminded there will be no tears in heaven for her is a comforting thing from our Lord. Will pray for those left behind in the days to follow and that they will feel the Lord’s presence.

    7. Joyce, I’m so sorry for your loss, but know it’s hard to see someone you love so dearly suffer in pain. I will be praying for Dennis and the kids and for your whole family to find the peace and comfort you all need in the one and only Lord that can provide it.

    8. Joyce, I am so sorry for this suffering in your family and yet so thankful for the assurance you have of her presence with Jesus now. Praying for Dennis and for you. You have been so strong for him but I know that you hurt too. Joyce you really are an inspiration to me. You love so well.

    9. Joyce,
      I am so sorry for your loss, and I agree with Anne – you have loved, and you do love, so well. I pray for Dennis to see the love Jesus has for him through you.

    10. Joyce, I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing this part of your life with us. My mom’s name was Joyce. She died when I was 15 so I am always drawn to women with her name. I’m sure you are special to everyone you know.

      1. Joyce, we will keep praying for Dennis. Love and hugs to you and comfort from our Heavenly Father.

  38. Take-away:

    Something struck me early to mid-week that was reinforced today by Diane’s posting. I learn so much from the sermons/video clips, and the music sticks with me. In fact, recently, I’ve taken what’s good to the extreme and neglected what’s even better. For example, I liked the video clips by Powlinson so I listened to almost every one of them I could find online!! (and read some stuff by and about him too). I listened to several versions of “O Love that will not let me go” and listed to a few of them too many times to count. But I read the Bible passages a couple of times, enough to answer the questions. The hymn definitely is sticking with me; the Psalm is too, but it’s not “as stuck” because I didn’t go over and over it all week.

    Then when I read how/what Diane was learning from Ephesians, I realized that I am SO hungry to know God as He revealed himself in Scripture — I also know that I spend too much time on the Internet. So, now I’m planning to spend more time in Bible Study (some of that might be on the Internet!–I do use Bible Gateway because it’s so easy to compare versions) than youTube

    My other take-away is to ask Him when (or before) I’m hitting my head against the brick wall. He answers prayer !

    1. hey! thats what I am reading!

    2. Saw your post and Cyndi’s post about reading Tozer’s book, but decided that I don’t know which bookshelf or box to attack. But then remembered that Kindle has classics free. I like free 🙂 Not sure when I’ll read it though.

  39. 9. What is your take-a-way and why?

    I was made for Jesus. He made us to crave, to want, to be in need. My desiring something beyond myself is not the problem. But what do I do with that desire? Most days I start out OK, turning to Him throughout the day as things arise. Other times, especially when I’m tired, I just take a short cut. I get frustrated that someone can’t find the file I already gave them, my children interrupt my one quiet moment of the day and I lose it. I don’t get enough appreciation from my part time job. The root is always the same—I wanted more. I just went to the wrong place to get it.

    I was thinking today about our culture’s obsession with “makeover” shows. I’m not judging—I’ve never seen the ones with people, but the home shows have lost their interest to me. In every show there is a “desire” then “poof” a dramatic makeover. I always wonder what the house really looks like a week or two later—how long does the transformation really last?! We know in real life, with our hearts, it doesn’t happen like that. There are no quick fixes, no short cuts.
    We were made for Him. But the best part is, we GET Him. In the devotion I shared earlier from Gospel Coalition, Tripp said, “Grace means He is in you and you are in Him. Grace has made it impossible for you to be alone.”

    So that’s my take away—I was made for Him. Only He can fill the void, all the other stuff is a desperate attempt at a quick fix and only leads to disappointment. I was made for Him, and I have Him. He is always here, and as Diane said, He wants to free me from turning to other temporary pleasures. It’s not quick, it’s not short—as Dee said, “growth is gradual”, but it is real, lasting, eternal.

  40. Saturday

    9. What is your take away and why? – I think what stuck out the most this week for me is that we were made to love the Lord, to trust him, to crave him but yet we don’t. I ask myself why is it so hard to just give my whole self to him? My situations, my issues, my idols. I’ve seen the Lord work in my life before when I know the end result was his doing and only his. I know he loves me and wants only the best for me but yet I still hold back. Why? I can only continue to learn and ask Him to help me to chip away the layers of the idols that I have blocking the path that leads to a complete life with the Lord Jesus Christ who I have given my life to. I thank you Lord for the grace and mercy you have given me and for the love you show me as I grow. In Jesus name Amen.

  41. This line from the song really stood out to me. “I lay in dust life’s glory dead, and from the ground there blossoms red, life that shall endless be” He who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. As I get older I find a tendency in myself to grieve over opportunities lost and dreams never fulfilled. In trying to understand this line I think I may see how there can be no sorrow in heaven.

    9. What is your take-a-way and why? The clips from Powlison were very helpful to me and my take away came from one of them. That is that all of my frustrations and difficulties can become opportunities to draw near to God and to trust in Him and lay down the idols. Whenever I become angry, fearful or sad I must stop and look for the idol that underlies that emotion. Then I can open my heart to my Lord.

    1. I like this, Anne – “…then I can open my heart to my Lord”.


    6. What stood out to you from the above and why?

    The fact that we are MADE to love God, to trust Him, to take refuge in Him. He designed us in this way. I like how Powlison uses those active verbs, taking them and looking at what is at the end of that active verb, and if it not the true God, but instead, something else I’ve built my life on, then it’s a false god.
    A strong desire is the thing I really want, need, have to have, what I pursue.

    7. What does Ephesians 5:5 say that covetousness is? And what does covetousness mean?

    The passage says that covetousness is idolatry, the one who covets is an idolater. It means a “strong desire”, the thing I really want and think I have to have.

    8. What is your STRONG desire? Be as honest as you can.

    A big part of me does have a strong desire to really know God, to finally lay all my doubts about my relationship with Him to rest, to finally feel totally secure in Him, to be, as much as I can in this world, at “home” – to enter into His rest and to rest there. I have a strong desire to finally find a “spiritual family” where I can find real connection, honesty, unmasking – being real with each other – a place where I walk in and feel “this is my family”.
    The false gods that I have strong desires for is approval of others, for someone or something to make me feel loved and affirmed, comfortable and secure. I often find myself longing for the past, the way things “used to be”, thinking that a lot of my sense of security lies there.


    9. What is your take-away and why?

    The clips by David Powlison were very helpful – I felt like I received a free counseling session! So many helpful things to think about. I want to remember that I am always operating in the horizontal and the vertical, and when I see a destructive emotion I need to pause and ask what is the idol underneath that. He helped me to really see how I “play god” and act like an offended god when people offend me, or when I demand my rights.

    I also have begun to memorize Psalm 46. Also the reminder that our idols are not our friends – something (and someone) deadly is hiding behind them. It’s like I’m opening the door just a crack and satan will get his foot in there.

  43. Praying for you Diane–hope you are feeling better this week

    1. Thanks for your prayers and concern, everyone. I am hanging in here. I have much to learn and sometimes the struggle is not fun, but struggle has not stopped me yet. I persevere with the end in mind that one day I will fully know Christ even as I am fully known. He has never failed me yet.

  44. Hello I have been dealing with two spirits that operate with idolatry everday they come to my spirit wanting to speak through me I asked the Lord what must I do to get rid of them. He said we must fast and pray and seek the Lord for a word of knowledge